WHAT ACTUALLY MATTERS
IN REAL ESTATE

WITH JENIFER GARCIA

After over 20 years in the real estate industry, we've seen the good, the bad, & the truly innovative. Avoid the needless (but common!) pitfalls buyers and sellers make and educate yourself on what you really need to know when it comes to listing or purchasing your home. At Garcia Properties, we do all the behind the scenes work so you can confidently focus on enjoying your home buying and selling experiences.
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ZILLOW, The ‘National Enquirer’ of Real Estate

If I had a dollar for every person calling, saying “Jenifer! I just looked at my Zestimate and my home value dropped $20,000!”. 

Please, stop looking at the Zestimate. It’s an algorithm and it doesn’t accurately calculate the value of your home. It’s simply looking at your house and comparing the square footage and number of bedrooms and bathrooms to houses that have sold recently.

That’s not how a house is valued. A house is valued on what kind of updates it has, its location, its style, its charm. The only way to get a real price is to call a trusted realtor. And as luck would have it, here at Garcia Properties, we have roughly 40 of those.

Not Everyone Should Buy a House

You won’t hear this from a lot of realtors, but not everyone should buy a house.

How do you know? Here are two easy questions to ask yourself.

  • Are you planning on staying in St. Louis? If you can’t commit to at least being here for seven years, don’t do it. Get it out of your mind.
  • Are you ready to cut your own grass, clean your own gutters, change your furnace filters, and replace the roof when it leaks? It’s not just your mortgage payment, there’s a lot of other costs that go into home ownership.

So, why SHOULD you buy a house? That’s easy. Whether you’re a millennial or a baby boomer, you should buy a house because it makes you happy — because you want to put down roots and make something yours. That’s why you buy a house, and that’s what we at Garcia Properties are here to help you do.

How Many Houses Should I Look at?

Before you even start looking for houses, you have to figure out what you’re looking for. Ask yourself simple, practical  questions: Where do I work, who do I hang out with, what’s important to me? Scroll through listings and go to open houses. It’s just as important to know what you don’t want as what you do want because you - and only you - need to be happy with where you live.

Maybe you’ll love the first house you look at. Is that ok? Of course it is! There’s no magic number of houses that will guarantee you find the right one. So how will you know when you find the right one? You need a trusted realtor with experience and expertise. Garcia agents will make sure you’re buying the perfect house for you (and help you avoid any lemons!).

Which Realtor Should I Hire?

When deciding what realtor to hire, you might be tempted to hire a friend or family member… that’s an iffy proposition. 

Questions to ask yourself: Does my friend or family member have a long track record of selling real estate? If they’re selling 30, 40, 50 homes a year, then sure, maybe they’re a great choice. But if they’re not, proceed with caution! You may think you’re doing them a favor by giving them business, but what we see a lot is that because they don’t have the skills they need to buy or sell a house, they end up costing you a lot of money — which makes for really awkward Thanksgiving dinners.

Hire someone who does real estate all day, every day, who has sold hundreds and hundreds of homes. Garcia Properties is one of the only brokerages in St. Louis that only hires full-time agents. We live and breathe real estate because it’s all we do.

Myths About Renting that Most Agents won't Tell You

Renting does not mean you’re throwing your money away.

I hear a lot of people say things like, “Gosh, I’ve been renting for seven years. Imagine how much equity I could have built!.” That’s not the way it works. 

When you buy a house, you receive this big, long ugly document called the amortization schedule which basically tells you how much you’re paying monthly in interest vs. equity — and the vast majority of what you’re paying in the first seven years or so is going to interest.

Then there’s that whole home maintenance thing. What happens when your furnace goes out and you’re renting? You call your landlord and it’s fixed! What happens when you own a home? You’re out thousands of dollars. 

Finally, say your dream job opens up and you have the chance to move. If you own your own house, it’s going to take a lot longer and cost you a lot more money to get your house on the market and ready to sell than it is to give your landlord 30 days notice.
Home ownership is a great way to build long-term equity, but it’s not for everyone. And just because it might be right at a certain point, doesn’t mean it’s right for you now.

Garcia Realtors will tell you straight up whether we think now is the time for home ownership for you. We’re not trying to sell you on anything; we want to have you as a customer for life, even if it means that renting is your best option.

Foreclosure Doesn’t Mean it’s a Good Deal

Just because a house is a foreclosure, doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.

Who owns the house has nothing to do with what the house is worth. A lot of people who lose their house due to foreclosure haven’t been doing the important things to maintain a house. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that keeps a house a good house — changing furnace filters, cleaning gutters, “everyday” home needs that really add up etc., and chances are if someone hasn’t been making their mortgage payments, they also haven’t been staying on top of those important maintenance items.

Bottom line: You could be getting a good deal, or you could be getting a money pit of maintenance. And that is why you hire a trusted Garcia Realtor. We’ll walk you through the whole process and make sure you’re getting a great deal, foreclosure or not.

5 Reasons Why Your Offers aren’t Being Accepted

People ask me all the time: Jenifer, why are none of my offers being accepted?! The truth is, there could be a number of reasons — all of which can be avoided by hiring a Garcia realtor, hint, hint — but these are five of the most common mistakes we see buyers make. 

5 REASONS
  • Just because your agent’s an a**hole, doesn’t mean they’re a good negotiator. What you really want is an agent who works well with others, not a bully who’s known for scaring other realtors away.
  • Make sure you don’t have too many special requests. Sure, we all love clean gutters, but we don’t need to put nitpicky requests like clean gutters in our original offer.
  • Make your best offer first! Avoid the sad conversation after your offer is declined and you say, “but I would have paid that much!”. Why didn’t you, then?
  • Find out what’s important to the seller. Ask questions. And once you do, make sure your offer reflects what you’ve learned.
  • And lastly, #5 is the most important. Your offers aren’t getting accepted because you haven’t hired a Garcia realtor! We’ll walk you through these steps and more to make sure you’re finding the best house for you.

Don’t Rush Your House onto the Market

Sure, Bob and Sally at [name that giant realtor] can get your house on the market today, but they’re going to cost you thousands of dollars in the process.

If you like losing money, call Bob and Sally. If you don’t, call Garcia Properties. Nobody likes homework, but homework is vital if you want to get the most value for your house. We’ll only give you recommendations that will keep you from either scaring buyers off, or that’ll make you more money in the long run. We’ll also price your house so that the market’s chasing you, rather than you chasing the market. 

So remember, unless you want to leave thousands of dollars on the table, don’t rush your house onto the market until it’s fully ready. And to make sure it’s ready, call a trusted Garcia realtor today. 

Pricing Your Home is More of an Aart than a Science

There are a lot of things that sellers think are important when they set their price: how much I want for my house, how much I've invested in improvements, how much my neighbor thinks my house is worth… the list goes on. Unfortunately, all those things have absolutely no bearing on what your house is actually worth. The only thing that sets the actual is what current buyers think your house is worth. 

How do you arrive at that number? You call a Garcia realtor. We’ll look at your house the way buyers look at your house and will help you set the perfect price that has the market chasing you, instead of you chasing the market.

Seller Pitfalls

PLEASE do NOT do these things when you’re selling your house! 

  • Put the nanny cam away, creeper! Prospective buyers should be able to look at your house privately without you listening in.
  • Crucifixes, Buddhas, your collection of crystals… PLEASE remove these items when you show your house. You want prospective buyers to imagine themselves in your house and your personal collections are only limiting their ability to do that.
  • Items that are super “you” — that turquoise paint color or the weird art piece you picked up overseas — put the taste-specific items away.
  • Anything with a face needs to go. Family photos, baby photos and special announcements are only going to distract people from envisioning themselves in your house. Remember you want people picturing themselves in your house, not you.

Your job as the seller is to make your house as appealing as possible to the most amount of people possible. And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any of those steps, be sure to call a Garcia realtor — we’ll walk you through the whole process, start to finish, to maximize your home sale.

Buyer Pitfalls

PLEASE do NOT do these things when you’re buying your house!

  • Once you get pre-approved, STOP! Don’t take out any credit, don’t pay off any debt, just stop.
  • Don’t get bogged down by seller design choices. If you love the layout and the neighborhood, don’t get turned off by a paint color. Small things are easy to change!
  • When you find a house you really like, keep it on the down low. Keep your comments to yourself and stay off social media. Don’t do anything to draw attention to it until it’s a done deal.

This is just a small sampling of the many mistakes we see buyers make. There are a whole lot more, so if you want the whole scoop, contact a Garcia realtor today and we’ll make sure you avoid them all.

When Should I Sell?

You’d be crazy not to wait ‘til Spring to put your house on the market… right?

We hear it all the time, but let’s think about this: Do people only move during the months of March, April, and May? Of course not! There are always reasons why people need to move — new job, new baby, divorce, the list goes on. 
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the perfect time to put your house on the market, but the first step is to call a Garcia agent. Selling a house is a bit like surfing — it’s impossible to surf if you don’t have a wave. Call us ahead of time so we can tell you what you need to do to get your house to appeal to as many buyers as possible. 
Once your house is ready, we wait for the wave. And when the wave comes, we get you lots of offers, we get you more money than you expected, we’re happy — and most importantly — you’re happy. 

Didn’t see your question answered or ready to buy & sell? Reach out to us below!

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